Early summer brought two trips: the first to the place where I first met my late friend, Jeni, and the second in my own hometown.
Atlanta for Work
My new position with Family to Family Support Network™ took my colleagues and me to Atlanta for AWHONN’s annual convention of nurses (Association of Women’s Health, Obstetrics and Neonatal Nurses). We presented a workshop on our Unique Families Program™ and held a board meeting/planning session.
Or is such intimacy a hot potato that can’t be held for too long?
I conducted my own experiments yesterday.
Intimacy and Connection: Field Notes
Child A: Was fidgety. Wanted to do something more active, but stuck with the experiment. Persevered through temptations to check the timer, and later stayed to observe as I did the same with Child B. Then kissed me on the way outside to play. I felt a sense of overwhelming love, but Child A didn’t have the stillness for that sensation to move in.
At this point the kids and I watched the above video together. Child B therefore has advance knowledge going into the subject chair.
Child B: Tolerated the 4 minutes but was uncomfortable, with skittish eyes. Even so, I felt moments of deep connection. I could sense this child at a soul level, which felt exquisite because it was devoid of judgment, either of the Child or of myself (“how do I look — do I have bedhead? food in my teeth?”). Child B reported it felt “creepy,” but said so with a sly smile.
Of note: my children are t(w)eens.
Later, Husband came home from a 2 hour bike ride. I caught him in the TV room as he was stretching.
Husband: His eyes bored into mine early on, so I softened and tried to smize. I soon realized it may have been a mistake to conduct the experiment during a basketball game (he allowed me to turn the TV off, but its essence lingered). At one point he zoned out, looking beyond me, perhaps trying to shave off a minute or two with a time warp. He showed great relief when the timer beeped, and humored me by watching about half the above video, at which point it dawned on him what the experiment was about.
My conclusion? Timing is everything.
And for better (and not necessarily more accurate) results, watch the video with your subjects before conducting the experiment.
Early in the evening we got a call from our local Kids Night Out program that Reed had crashed into metal bleachers while playing indoor tag. He had a gash on his leg that should be looked at.
Roger and I cut our Date Night short to pick up the kids and their friends, return the friends to their homes, and head to a children’s emergency room.
Reed entered — and later exited — in a wheelchair.
Though in pain, Reed mostly remained his jovial self from the time we retrieved him until the time the doctor said he would need stitches. That declaration broke Reed’s resolve and a full-on panic attack ensued.
First came the numbing gel. Thirty minutes later he was administered nasal versed, which made Reed amusingly loopy (This bed? It’s my best friend!). Finally, he was ready for irrigation and repair.
Roger, allowing his wimpy wife an out, took front-and-center position to hold Reed’s hands and gaze during the procedure. Our curious Tessa was eager to watch. That left me in the background, avoiding eye contact with all things crimson.
#2: The Girl
The next step in anesthesia involved a long needle, presumably to be administered directly into the wound (I wouldn’t know). Tessa, who likes to observe as people get shots and IVs, fixed her eyes.
And then got light-headed. I was standing next to her and was able to stop her from falling by pressing her toward a wall, guiding her gently to the floor. A nurse helped me get Tessa into what had been, an hour before, Reed’s wheelchair.
The nurse got the two of us situated in the next room. Tessa was given crackers and juice and a wet cloth for her sweaty forehead. We began to breathe together to calm her body down.
And then…from the next room, we heard, “I NEED SOME HELP IN HERE!!”
In a flash and of my own making, I became part of an ER episode, certain that Reed had gone into cardiac arrest just a wall away. I was convinced the doc was calling for a crash cart.
Tessa leapt out of bed and we both bolted into the hallway where several nurses were hustling. I peeked into Reed’s room with a vise around my throat.
I didn’t expect to see what I saw.
#3: The Surprise
In a heap on the floor at the head of my son’s bed were my husband’s legs. He had crumbled to the floor, hitting his head on the same wall that my daughter had slid down 5 minutes previously.
Roger had been holding the hands of Loopy Reed, who kept wanting to “help” the doc with the stitches. Why are my legs allllll the way down theeeeere? — he’d ask and point with his whole arm. Roger was charged with keeping Reed’s hands out of the doctor’s way. Having never been squeamish, Roger watched as the doctor probed her finger deep into the wound — into his son’s muscle — to fish out any debris.
That scene, along with the fact that Roger had come down with a cold the day before, was enough to vasovagal him. Moments later — you guessed it — Roger was occupying the family wheelchair.
With ice on his head and an oxygen mask on his face.
I started to laugh at how comical our calm date night had become. I didn’t know where to focus, how to be present for each of my downed comrades. I checked in first with Reed (still loopy, almost all stitched and bandaged), then with Tessa (over her own spell and now concerned about her dad), then with Roger (my dear sweet man, coming back to us and a bit mystified that this had happened).
I remained upright and eventually was able to drive us all home, starting with Reed’s wheelchair ride to the elevator.